Thursday, March 28, 2013

For the love of Black and White
Ah, those days of working in the darkroom for hours on end,  printing black and white photos.  So zen-like.  So creative. So rewarding. So time consuming. So wasteful.  So toxic. Yup, it was all of that,  but of course there was no alternative.  Today there isn’t much alternative either, at least not for me.  I’ve been shooting digital for more than a decade, and the results have been great although I must say, my favorite photo is one I made in the darkroom on silver gelatin paper; this black and white print, made with Tri-X film, taken on the streets of downtown Brooklyn in 1977, hangs on my wall to this day:

Over the past few years I’ve admired the work of some photographers shooting digital and processing them in black and white.  Their blacks were so smooth and beautiful, the whites clean, with wonderful gradations of grey throughout.  I envied them, but was having so much fun with color, that black and white took a back seat.  Sometimes I did need to convert a color image to black and white for a client and my efforts were satisfactory, but still, they didn’t stand up to the standard that I’d been seeing in magazines and online.  So recently I purchased Nik's Efex Pro 2 software (before Google bought them) and now I am much more excited about my b&w images.  Using this software is pretty easy, and it allows you to tweak every part of the image, as well as make global changes.  Here are just some of my recent photos of color images converted to black and white, using this software.  These were taken in  Joshua Tree National Park and the Yucatan, Mexico, respectively.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

What To Wear

If you’re like me, the “what should I put on,” conundrum that you have when the occasion arises, usually ends up with the same result: I put on what I always put on when I’m unsure of what to wear. So, I often wind up wearing the thing I wore the last time (but only, of course, if it’s a different crowd of people from the last time!) because once I put it on, I don’t have to think about it anymore.

Of course, if you look like this (taken at the runway show of the fashion designer, Maria Cornejo),

the “what should I put on” question brings a whole new and totally different dimension to the problem.

So, when the time came for me to choose which photos to put on to my new website, (beautifully designed by Rima Grad), I was caught between the real world of my own making (the photos I had on last time) or the problems that a Maria Cornejo model might have, which is, “so many choices! What to do”!

My old favorite photos were just that: old. Not that there is anything wrong with old, as I’ve come to learn…..

(perhaps more on the age subject in another blog. Then again, maybe not) .

In the end, I did wind up putting on some of my old favorites and adding some of my new ones, all the while limiting myself to keep each category under a self-imposed number of photos. Any photographer and artist will tell you that editing her work is the hardest part of any presentation. Not putting in your beloved babies….

Can cause a fair amount of angst and even a little guilt.

Keeping another photo out because it is not as wonderful as the other one that is similar but maybe better, or maybe has been seen too much….

Causes me to reconsider, too many times....but the editor in me persists, and it stays out.

And how about my beloved trees? I love them all! How difficult it was for me to leave this one out:

In the end, I made my choices, and I’m stickin’ with ‘em, all the while knowing that the others, the ones that didn’t make the team, are sitting on the bench, waiting their turn.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Photographing MOMA Photography Curator, Susan Kismaric

When photographer Barbara Leven called and asked me if I would photograph Susan Kismaric, the photography curator at the Museum of Modern Art, in conjunction with a conference PWP, (Professional Women Photographers), plans for March when Ms. Kismaric will be the keynote speaker, I was humbled, gratified and a little anxious. I would have felt a bit more intimidated and apprehensive about this assignment had I not taken this photograph of Lesley Martin, the editor of the prestigious publication, "Aperture" last year for the exhibition, “Faces of A Village”, in Long Island City.
My assistant, Alex Kotlik and I arrived at MOMA on a recent Tuesday morning when the museum is closed to the public. Having previously scouted the museum for the best places to shoot Susan, I knew that I wanted some photos at the Bauhaus Stairway. However, I felt compelled to start out in the iconic Sculpture Garden, even though the light was a bit contrasty. With Alex manipulating the reflector, we got a couple of good shots outside with Susan sitting in the open shade.

After we went inside, I recognized that I had an immediate problem. I had discovered, the day before, that my husband, who took my Canon D10 to shoot a project that he was working on in California, accidentally took the battery charger for my Nikon. I knew that I was low on battery juice, but I thought I would have enough power for the shoot, with my two batteries having half-lives. It turned out that one of the batteries actually had no life at all, and so I was left with one battery half full (or half empty, depending on how one looks at these things.) Having told Susan that I wouldn’t take up more than an hour shooting her, I squelched my apprehension and got on with the job at hand.

What a joy it was to walk through the galleries, with no one around, surrounded by some of the most fabulous works of art on the planet. Susan told me that it was one of the perks she most enjoyed while working at the museum. The light and background in the galleries was wonderful and Susan seemed pretty happy to be sitting and looking pretty, so before we moved on to the Bauhaus Steps, I got these in.

I knew I still had enough battery life to get a few in the Bauhaus Steps and and they turned out to be Susan’s, PWP’s, and my favorites. This is the one that Susan liked best, and PWP will be using this for publicity purposes.

Thinking it would be a good idea to just get a couple of shots in the Photography gallery, I managed to get off a few frames (that I did not use) just as my battery died. So, a couple of lessons learned: watch what your husband takes away with him, and don’t panic (which I didn’t!).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Photographing Rose Fazio, a 100 year old resident of Long Island City

In the fall of 2008, Diane Hendry, who ran a gallery called Art-O-Mat, in Long Island City, New York, asked me and another photographer, Alexander Richter, if we would photograph some of the residents of Long Island City for a show that would be on view from February to April in 2009. Diane was a long time resident of the area and she knew most of the people very well. She loved many of these people, and, as I began photographing them, I fell in love with them too.

This area of New York City is an amazing mix of teachers, artists, musicians, blue-collar workers, community activists and many others who spend a surprising amount of time with each other doing all kind of interesting things. Many of them live in humble but very interesting homes, some of them having lived there all their lives. Rose Fazio was one of these people. She lives in the house she was born into, one hundred years ago. I decided to photograph her in St. Mary’s church, a couple of blocks away from her home. I later found out that although her two daughters regularly attend St. Mary’s, Rose is less enthusiastic about church going. Nevertheless, she agreed to go with me there. When I picked her up, she was all dressed up for the occasion with her rhinestone earrings, her lipstick and her perfectly coiffed hair. We spent about an hour and a half in the church, walking around, finding the best places with the most flattering light, etc. She was very relaxed, and yet she had intensity in her clear blue eyes that I thought was amazing. She didn’t tire until the very end of the session and later on, when I showed her the photographs that I made of her, she seemed very pleased.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Prospect Park Peaks

Last Saturday I marched along with the Brooklyn Little Leaguers as they inaugurated the opening on the 2010 baseball season. Afterward, as I walked around Prospect Park, I thought, Today, right at this moment, it is peak season in the park. After this, we can look forward to the three h’s….hazy, hot and humid. But let’s not get carried away. Right now it is heavenly. All the fruit trees are in bloom, as are the magnolias, dogwoods, elms, redbuds, locusts, yellowwoods, sycamores, forsythia, and daffodils. I’m a tree hugger, I admit it, but tell, me, how can one not be in love with these magnificent specimens, and they’re right here, in our beautiful backyard. Thank you Tupper! We will miss you, but we’ll always have the promise of spring in Prospect Park.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Photoshoot: Up On The Roof

Recently I photographed Isabel Hill, an architectural historian, urban planner, and filmmaker. She needed some new photos for her website. Normally, my assistant, Alex Kotlick, will accompany me on a shoot like this, to help me carry my gear and, primarily, to help me with lighting. In this case, we were going to shoot outdoors and all that was needed was someone to hold the reflector. Unfortunately, Alex, who is a great assistant and a terrific photographer in his own right, couldn’t make it, and so I’d have to deal with the reflector myself. After making some photos in Isabel’s backyard with her adorable pup, we decided to head on up to her roof. Isabel wanted some urban architecture to show in the background. We went up on the roof and amazingly, there was a beautiful built-in reflector right there, a silverish painted surface on the roof that reflected the overcast sky perfectly. Sometimes the photo gods are good.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gowanus Update: Ooze Makes News

On March 17th, the Daily News reported that one person’s idea of what to do with the Gowanus Canal’s toxic sludge is to turn it into organic glass cubes, which could then be turned into something useful, such as aquariums, or building blocks or sculpture. Or, as one can see in some buildings in the area, it can be made into decorative glass bricks. These photos I took recently show just how beautiful they can be; more are on my Gowanus Impressions series album.